Located at the navel or slightly above the solar plexus, the third chakra is called Manipura, the "City of Jewels" (Mani - gem, Pura or Puri - city). Often associated with the color yellow, blue in classical tantra, and red in the Nath tradition, this chakra is associated with fire and the power of transformation. It is said to govern digestion and metabolism as the home of Agni and the vital wind Samana Vayu. It is also the point where the energies of Prana Vayu and Apana Vayu (inward and outward flowing energy) meet in a balanced system. It is notably the home of coeliac plexus which innervates most of the digestive system. In chakra based medicine, this area is worked with to affect healthier digestion, elimination, pancreas-kidney and adrenal function. Weak Agni (fire) here leads to incompletely digested food, thoughts and emotions, and is a source of ama (toxicity).
Manipura is represented with a downward pointing red triangle, signifying the tattva of fire, within a bright yellow circle, with 10 dark-blue or black petals like heavily laden rain clouds. The fire region is represented by the god Vahni, who is shining red, has four arms, holds a rosary and a spear, and is making the gestures of granting boons and dispelling fear. He is seated on a ram, the animal that represents this chakra.
The seed mantra is the syllable 'ram'. Within the bindu or dot above this mantra resides the deity Rudra, who is red or white, with three eyes, of ancient aspect with a silver beard, and smeared with white ashes. He makes the gestures of granting boons and dispelling fear. He is either seated upon a tiger skin, or upon a bull. His Shakti is the goddess Lakini. She has a black or dark-blue vermillion color; three faces, each with three eyes; is four-armed; holds a thunderbolt, the arrow shot from the bow of Kama, fire; and makes the gesture of granting boons and dispelling fear. She is seated upon a red lotus.
The ten petals are dark-blue or black, like heavily laden rain clouds, with the syllables ḍaṁ, ḍhaṁ, ṇaṁ, taṁ, thaṁ, daṁ, dhaṁ, naṁ, paṁ, and phaṁ upon them in a dark-blue color. They correspond to the vrittis of spiritual ignorance, thirst, jealousy, treachery, shame, fear, disgust, delusion, foolishness and sadness.
Manipura is considered the center of dynamism, energy, willpower, and achievement (Itcha shakti), which radiates prana throughout the entire human body. It is associated with the power of fire and digestion, as well as with the sense of sight and the action of movement. Through meditating on Manipura, one is said to attain the power to create (save) or destroy the world.
Association with the body
The position of Manipura is stated as being either behind the navel or the solar plexus. Sometimes, when it is located at the navel, a secondary chakra called Surya (sun) chakra is located at the solar plexus, whose role is to absorb and assimilate Prana from the sun. Being related to the sense of sight, it is associated with the eyes, and being associated with movement, it is associated with the feet.
In the endocrine system, Manipura is said to be associated with the pancreas and the outer adrenal glands; the adrenal cortex. These glands create important hormones involved in digestion, converting food into energy for the body, in the same way that Manipura radiates Prana throughout the body.
In kundalini and classical haṭha yoga, different practices for arousing and balancing the energies of Manipura include various asanas which work on that part of the body, Pranayama, Uddiyana bandha (exhaling and pulling back and up the abdomen and diaphragm, respectively) and agnisara kriya (practicing jalandhara bandha, and moving the abdomen in and out), as well as the practice of nauli (stomach churning), and other pranayama and mudra that encourage the union of prana and apana, where the lower and higher winds are made to unite.
Comparisons with other systems
In the Vajrayana Highest Tantra traditions, the navel wheel is extremely important as being the seat of the 'red drop'. It is triangular, red, with 64 petals or channels that extend upwards. Inside of it is the short syllable 'Ah'. Meditation on this syllable is the key component of the practice of Tummo, or inner heat, where the subtle winds are made to enter the central channel, and rise up to the top of the channel, in an experience akin to that of 'raising the kundalini' in Hindu terminology, melting the subtle white drop in the crown, and causing an experience of great bliss. This practice is considered the first and most important of the six yogas of Naropa.
In Chinese qigong, there exists three Dantians, acting as furnaces to convert different energies in the body. The lower Dantian exists in the region of the stomach. Its function is to convert sexual jing energy into Qi energy (a concept similar to Indian prana).
Within the system of the Sufi Lataif-e-sitta, there are a number of Lataif on the torso, but they are not distributed vertically, like chakras, but some are to the left and some to the right. The nafs, or lower self, is a centre situated below the navel.
Western occultists make different kabbalistic associations with Manipura. For some, it relates to the sephirot of Hod and Netzach, Netzach being that quality of energy to overcome different obstacles, and Hod being the tendency to control and break down energy into different forms, the two being contending and balancing forces, like the forces of anabolism and catabolism in the human body. Hod and Netzach are associated with the left and right legs and feet of the body.
- Tantra: Dashachchada, Dashadala Padma, Dashapatra, Dashapatrambuja, Manipura, Manipuraka, Nabhipadma, Nabhipankaja
- Vedas (late Upanishads): Manipura, Manipuraka, Nabhi Chakra
- Puranic: Manipura, Nabhi Chakra